11 Things Only Someone With Endometriosis Understands

11 Things Only Someone With Endometriosis Understands

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 | By SARAH KLEIN

When Michelle Johnson was diagnosed with endometriosis, she thought she had the flu.
 
"Winters here in Chicago are brutal," she says. "So when I found myself very fatigued and lethargic with a bad fever, I thought it was just the weather."
 
She ended up in the ER after the fever hit 104°. After 9 hours of tests for life-threatening concerns like a ruptured appendix, she found out she actually had stage 4 endometriosis. Endometrial growths had gotten so large they were pressing on her kidneys, restricting the flow of urine, which had led to a kidney infection that caused the sky-high fever. She'd been having increasingly heavy and frequent periods, but she thought it was "part of being a woman," she says. It wasn't: "The doctors guessed I had had endometriosis for at least 10 years, unchecked, undiagnosed." She was 33. 

A little endometriosis 101 for the unfamiliar: Cells that typically grow in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, can end up in other places, where they really don't belong, says Marc R. Laufer, MD, a Harvard professor, chief of gynecology at Boston Children's Hospital, and the director of the Boston Center for Endometriosis. "Those cells implant in those other locations and cause pain if left untreated or undiagnosed."

That's because they grow—and bleed—as if they were still at home in the uterus. "Every time a woman has a period, there are these micro-periods happening," says Tamer Seckin, MD, a specialist in endometriosis in private practice in New York and the co-founder and medical director of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. The immune system is altered in some way in women with endometriosis so that no matter how much swelling and inflammation the body sends to the pelvic cavity to try to clean away the blood that doesn't belong, the implanted cells are still able to thrive, acting almost like cancer in many ways. Growths on the ovaries, called endometriomas or chocolate cysts, can permanently damage a woman's fertility. Cysts may grow on the bowels, bladder, or, more rarely, even infiltrate the lungs.

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  • nikoletta pados

    I am a physician who suffered from deep infiltrative endometriosis. I needed laparoscopic surgery, so I went to see my former gynaecologist and he performed the procedure (a surgery which he supposedly does hundreds of times a year) last November. I had severe pain again when I had my period in January and was advised to go on taking a…

  • Grace Larsen

    After years of excessively painful periods, a serious loss of quality of life, and a series of uninformed and uninterested doctors, Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein turned my life around. I was told I woke up from my surgery almost a year ago with a smile on my face, and I haven't stopped since. Before I heard of Dr. Seckin,…

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    Dr Seckin and his team gave me back my life! Tomorrow will be 1 month since my surgery and I feel great. Dr. Seckin, Dr Liu, and Dr Goldstein are not only beyond words talented and amazing Doctors, but they are also genuinely wonderful and caring people. I cannot say enough great things about Holly, Asiye and Kim as well.…

  • Anna Lu

    Dr. Seckin and his staff spared me from years and years of heavy periods and unbearable endometriosis pain. After having surgery with him (my first) I can now function like a regular human. No more eating NSAIDs like candy and calling out sick from work. Thank you, Dr. Seckin!

  • Sheena Wright

    I underwent surgery with Dr. Seckin in 2017 and have felt like a new woman ever since. If you have, or suspect you have endometriosis, Dr. Seckin and his compassionate team of surgeons and staff are a must-see.